MEXICO, Maine — Two elderly Rumford residents were involved in a bizarre accident Saturday afternoon when their sport utility vehicle struck a church on Roxbury Road.
Driver John Hall, 91, complained of chest pain from the safety belt and his wife, Mary Hall, 90, complained of anxiety, Mexico police Lt. Dan Carrier said.
They were taken to Rumford Hospital to be evaluated, Carrier said.
After talking with witnesses, Carrier said John Hall was driving down Harlow Hill Road shortly before 1:15 p.m. in his 1997 GMC Jimmy after they visited their son.
Carrier said John Hall told him that his accelerator stuck and he lost his brakes, so he shut off the engine after putting it in park while trying to stop the SUV, and lost steering control as a result.
Witnesses “heard the vehicle making a loud, grinding noise,” Carrier said. “Some people say it sounds like brakes. It could have been from shutting it off and putting it in park, trying to stop the vehicle.”
The SUV traveled about 1,500 feet, Carrier said. It just missed colliding with a utility pole, passing between it and a large wooden fence after veering off the road and into the front yards of houses lining Harlow Hill Road.
Tire tracks on lawns of houses at 6 and 4 Harlow Hill Road showed the SUV’s path through a row of hedges. It narrowly missing two rusted iron poles behind the hedges.
The Jimmy emerged from the hedges, dropped over a curb back onto Harlow Hill Road, crossed both lanes of Roxbury Road (also called Route 17), jumped another curb and collided with the concrete steps and porch roof posts of the Speck Mountain Evangelistic Church & Outreach at 33 Roxbury Road.
“He had no brakes and missed the telephone pole back there when he hopped the curb,” Carrier said. “He went through here and over the bushes and crossed the intersection and hit the church while traffic was passing back and forth when he came through. He was lucky he didn’t hit anybody.”
Carrier said it could have been a lot worse.
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